My husband and I spent ten years camping, hiking, and exploring the Pacific Northwest before we started a family. In our efforts to maintain some semblence of our pre-children lifestyle, my husband and I have continued to enjoy many camping road trips with our young children. We have dear friends in Berkeley, so we make an annual trek to visit them, visiting family and other friends along the way. These road trips always included detours to places along the beautiful North California coast, Yosemite, Lava Beds National Park, Sonoma, and more. In addition we made forays into Eastern Oregon, the Blue Mountains, the Steens, Western Idaho, Owahee River valley and many more amazing beautiful and sometimes remote places. All the while we perfected traveling and camping with a toddler who was prone to motion sickness, and suffered from occasional bouts of asmtha. We now have a 6 year old and 2 year old, both of whom do exceptionally well on long car rides, without the use of DVD players or video games. One year ago we had to make an emergency trek from Berkeley to Portland in one day. This takes a good 12 or 13 hours with several stops for food, bathrooms, and stretching. We weren’t sure kids would hold up, but they did! I do not recommend 12 day time hours driving with small children if you can avoid it, but here are some tips I have come up with over the years that have very much improved the quality of our road trip experiences! And I might add, keep our children positive and looking forward to the next family adventure.
- Bring an IPOD or CD’s of kids music and spoken stories
- Invent a “rest stop fairy” who leaves a book, match box car, stickers, or small travel puzzle on the kids seats while they are stretching their legs; anything to entertain them til the next stop.
- To get the most out of rest stops, pack a ball to throw or chase, bubble stuff, frisbee, anything to get the kids moving once they get out of the car.
- Items such as small hand held battery operated fan, a small spray bottle for misting, small frozen water bottles for help with “its too hot in here” complaints.
- Keep your cooler within reach from the passenger seat for cold drinks, ice, fruit…
- Pack a snack box, full of nuts, granola bars, fruit, treats, what ever your kids are likely to say yes to when the “I’m hungry” bug hits.
- Stash drawing supplies kit with lap desk or clip board, (has doubled as an impromptu race track for my son’s match box cars and a toy dragon). with in reach of your kids.
- Create a list of travel games like a roadside scavenger hunt, I spy, taking a trip to… check out a book from the library for ideas.
- The car sick kit (small bucket, towels, wet wipes, plastic bag for pukey cloths, a bottle of water for rinsing, could include a change of cloths (if vomiting is a regular occurance). On that note, we have been known to resort to candy canes (mint helps calm the stomach, and altoids were too strong) and on occasion benedryl, which was recommended by our pediatrician for motion sickness.
- And of course sunscreen, your kids favorite blanket, extra sippy cups, binkies, first aid kit (don’t forget the baby ibuprofen and fun bandaids) maps…
- Bring a travel journal, a spiral notebook to jot down favorite stops, ideas, and comical moments. Have your kids participate too as they are able; have them draw a picture, tell their favorite part of the day, or the trip. This is a great way to document and revisit the trip along with your pictures!
Above all enjoy yourself and make the most of time with your family!